film reel image

film reel image

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D 2013 * * Stars

Walking with DinosaursDirectors: Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale
Year: 2013
Rated PG
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Charlie Rowe, Karl Urban, John Leguizamo, Justin Long

Along with a slew of dinosaurs who are at times, unable to be identified, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D is also narrated by a goofy bird that is well, millions and millions of years old (don't ask how this is possible). Let me put it this way: this animated dud depicts badly, the trials and tribulations of a young pachyrhinosaurus taking an unabashed journey into adult life (along with eventually gaining official herd leadership). As a whole, "Dinosaurs" is misguided slop that spends a great amount of time feeling like every other animated vehicle you've ever seen. Now about the bird mentioned earlier, it becomes a part of pretty much the whole running time. This includes two present day sequences and a long flashback sequence occupying the second and most of the third act. But that's not the only thing wrong with what's on screen. Every voice, every line of dialogue, and every plot point (which includes a female animated love interest of course) seems vaguely familiar. What's even worse is that it's a bad version of what's been done in the past 20 years or so. The only thing that saves "Dinosaurs" from being one of the worst animated films of all time is the look. I've seen animation fare that has no vision of painting a picture whatsoever. But at least they were about something, where as Walking with Dinosaurs 3D has a plot so thin, it's the equivalent of the garlic slices from the prison scene in Goodfellas. That's thin people!

In a word, this December release is totally a miscalculation. It's considered animation but it does a substantial job of making its features translate into a real live setting (the first couple of scenes and the last scene have actual humans in them). The special effects or should I say the 3D effects, are actually quite impressive as well. But here's the thing: this is one of those kids films that I'm sad to say, does not get by on what I have just mentioned. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out if this is something a kid would actually want to view. It's PG because of the violent content involving the dinosaurs relentlessly fighting each other. As a result, young boys and girls might be traumatized by what they see. On the other end of the spectrum, it acts as the type of exercise that 3rd grade teachers would show in their classrooms as a film strip of some sort. You'll know what I mean when you see the directors freeze a frame and a young narrator (there seemed to be a lot of narrators in "Dinosaurs," too many to count in fact) explains what species of dinosaur the viewer is suppose to be looking at. Because of this gadget, I'm thinking that the younger crowd who bought their tickets to this thing would feel like they're still in geography class (kids want to be entertained for gosh sakes, not eat popcorn while watching something educational). Finally, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D doesn't seem to have anything to offer the adults who take their kids. The humor is juvenile at best. And did I mention that despite the violent nature of their way of life and the fact that some of them actually get killed, these now extinct creatures in the flick constantly make tired, cliched jokes throughout. Honestly, is this animated mess an action adventure or a comedy? I mean, who made dinosaurs a bunch of comedians anyway.

Like most animated flicks, there is a script (you don't see many silent pictures in this genre) and it's usually brought to life by lots of animals instead of people. Almost 95% of this movie has talking Therizinosaurs, Pachyrhinosaurus, and Tyrannosauruses. The problem is that they don't move their lips when they utter any words. With so many speaking parts, you can't tell who is who because everyone jibber-jabbers so fast. Oh and I haven't mentioned the other 5% of "Dinosaurs" involving dialogue between actual human beings. This happens in two sequences that were mentioned earlier in this review (the beginning scenes and the ending scene). Without a doubt, they are trite, badly acted, and do a lukewarm job of tying everything together. I guess you've figured out by now that I have a bone to pick with "Dinosaurs" (get it?). It frustrated me because despite the fact that it was a visual splendor all the way through, it didn't seem like it had so much as a point. I read somewhere that another critic called Walking with Dinosaurs 3D a documentary. I would agree with that. It was pretty much an hour and a half depiction of their way of life. The achingly thin plot involves a journey of some sort but from one frame to the next, it was hard to take everyone seriously because the movie as a whole, didn't take itself seriously. The Late Cretaceous period of dinosaurs might have been interesting. Unfortunately a badly executed script (containing shards of nervous/cretinous humor) coupled with scenes of scarring violence sink this thing altogether.

Overall, I initially thought about giving "Dinosaurs" a 1 star rating. I'll give it an extra mark for its ability to mesh animation fairly well with a humanistic, nature-laden background (as well as having solid visuals). Otherwise, it really has nothing more to offer. To be truthful, I would avoid this stinker and watch Jurassic Park instead. Then again, if you have really little ones then I would just find another kid flick to attend in general. The studio execs have probably already seen the box office returns on Walking with Dinosaurs 3D (I know I have) so I'm pretty sure they won't green-light films like this ever again. Hopefully, they'll make them "extinct" just like the creatures who have been so for the last 70 million years.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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